Thriller, Crime and Drama | Running Time: 92 minutes
2022 / Arabic
Country: Tunisia, France, Qatar and Saudi Arabia
CastFatma Oussaifi, Mohamed Houcine Grayaa, Rami Harrabi, Hichem Riahi, Nabil Trabelsi, Bahri Rahali
ScriptwriterFrançois-Michel Allegrini, Youssef Chebi
Elements of film noir, the traditional police procedural and political allegory come together in Tunisian director Yousseb Chebbi’s second feature, set in the symbolically evocative Gardens of Carthage urban development in north Tunis. Among the eerie, unoccupied blocks of this city within the city – abandoned after the overthrow of President Ben Ali and now under perpetual construction – is the burnt body of a night watchman. Authorities are inclined to write it off as suicide, putting pressure on the investigating officers Fatma (Fatma Oussaifi) and Batal (Mohamed Houcine Grayaa) to clean up the case quickly. When one body is followed by several more, however, there is a suggestion that these deaths are not only connected but may presage another moment of political reckoning for the country. Troubling and atmospheric, Ashkal’s mystery deepens without reaching closure: a fascinating and unsettling film. This film is supported by the Red Sea Fund.